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Colorblind Confusion

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In Real Life, partial ("red-green" or "blue-yellow") and full colorblindness are among the most common disabilities, affecting around 8% of males and .5% of females worldwide, with the number possibly being even higher as many people go through life unaware that they have the condition due to it not causing problems in their lives.

In fiction, however, a character having this is usually a Chekhov's Gun or is only brought up in a situation where being able to distinguish colors is vitally important, such as a Wire Dilemma or needing to identify a key object by color alone. The fact that colorblindness is usually inherited means it can also be used to prove or disprove a character's parentage if they have it while another character does or does not, though much like the AB Negative trope the mechanism of inheritance is often over-simplified, especially with females who are far more likely to be an asymptomatic carrier for the condition unless they get it from both sides, due to the most common gene associated with the condition being carried on the X Chromosome. It's also sometimes used as an explanation for a character's horrendous fashion sense, in which case it's often Played for Laughs. Since colorblindness can disqualify a person from receiving certain types of licenses, especially aircraft, a character learning they have this is sometimes used as a Dream-Crushing Handicap.

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May also occur with Funny Animal or Uplifted Animal characters pointing out that their species is naturally colorblind as a Furry Reminder. When this trope is applied to dogs it's a case of Science Marches On, as it's now known that while dogs may not see colors as well as humans they're still able to distinguish them.

Compare Blind Mistake, where a character being unable to see at all causes confusion, and Animals See in Monochrome (which often uses this trope). Not to be confused with Colorblind Casting, where an actor's race is not taken into account when casting a role.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Iroduku The World In Colors, the main protagonist Hitomi Tsukishiro is colorblind, which causes a problem when her friends ask her to demonstrate her magic abilities for a photo shoot. She's told to use a bottle of blue star-sand to perform a water-walking spell over a pool, but can't tell the difference, and grabs a bottle of pink sand instead, resulting in her falling into the water.
  • Combined with Imposter Forgot One Detail in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. Being cats, the Liese twins get the color of their Barrier Jackets wrong when they disguise themselves as Nanoha and Fate. Not that it really matters, since the person they were trying to fool had never seen Nanoha or Fate in their Barrier Jackets, but it clues in the audience that something is up.
  • In SEX, Yuki's red-green colorblindness contributes to his Drives Like Crazy tendencies since he pays no attention to traffic signals.
  • In the English version of the manga adaptation of Battle Royale, Kazuo Kiriyama is revealed to have become colorblind after suffering brain damage in the car accident that made him emotionless and remorseless. When Noriko shoots him in the head, the non-fatal injury he suffers strikes the damaged part of his brain, causing him to not only be overwhelmed by the emotions that had been repressed, but subjecting him to Sensory Abuse due to suddenly seeing colors again, his mental dialogue begging him to make it go "back to gray!"
  • In Witch Hat Atelier, a boy named Tartar has a (fictional) condition where he can't see colors called Silverwash. This ends up biting him when an accident scatters the bottles of paint ingredients and leaves them disorganized. Worse, he encounters a situation where he needs to give someone medicine but because the bottles aren't labeled he runs the risk of giving them something dangerous instead.

    Comic Books 
  • It's not brought up often, but Cyclops is effectively colorblind as a result of the ruby quartz visor that's used to keep his eye beams from destroying everything tinting everything a shade of red. How he's able to fly the Blackbird isn't explicitly stated, though it's likely the controls have been calibrated so he can see them.
  • The Rainbow Raider, a member of The Flash's Rogues Gallery is a gifted painter who's also completely colorblind, which hampered his success and eventually caused him to turn to crime.
  • In Top 10, Hyperdog eventually reveals that he's colorblind, which means that he's been able to see through the patterns on the skin of his partner Girl One (who was created by a couple of horny fanboys so she has to be naked all the time but does have a nudity taboo and uses the patterns to give her some modesty) and when she finds out he's been effectively seeing her naked this whole time she decks him. He tells her he's not attracted to human women as a way to try and defuse the situation, though we later learn he was lying about this when he enters a relationship with a human and adopts a daughter with her.
  • In the Colt Noble story from Mini-Comics Included, Mareea is fooled by Duper, an impostor Colt with green skin and purple hair. Her brother Ferran confirms the obvious at the end of the story — she's completely colorblind. If this sounds a little weird, read up on a Masters of the Universe character called "Faker".
  • In The Maze Agency #11, Gabe's "Eureka!" Moment occurs when he realized that the killer had shot up an empty room before finding the room containing his intended victim because he was colourblind: he had been unable to tell the difference between the red corridor and the green corridor. He is then able to work out from what he has observed of the suspects which of them is the only one who could be colourblind.
  • A pivotal moment in Dog Man's backstory is when they were a duo consisting of a dog named Greg and an unnamed cop, and they had to figure which wire to cut in order to defuse a bomb. Greg answers by growling, meaning "green". Too bad they realized too late that dogs are red-green colorblind. This is the incident that led to Greg's head being sewn onto the cop's body.

    Films — Animation 
  • In All Dogs Go to Heaven, while Itchy is busting Charlie out of jail, Charlie warns Itchy not to break through a pipe because it could be a water main. Itchy insists that it can't be: water mains are green, and this pipe is red. Charlie retorts that Itchy has always been colorblind. Followed by an Immediate Self-Contradiction when Itchy insists that the pipe is green and water mains are red.
  • In Shrek, Fiona sends Donkey to find a blue flower with red thorns to help heal Shrek after the ogre takes an arrow to the butt, as a distraction so Donkey doesn't bother them while they handle it themselves. Cut to Donkey desperately looking around a field of those exact flowers before complaining that "this would be so much easier if I wasn't colorblind!"

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Cats and Dogs, the dogs know which color wire to pull on a bomb to disarm it, but since they're all colorblind can't tell which one it actually is.
  • Ed Wood has Ed being forced by Loretta to choose between a red and a green dress, but when he can't decide asks the director of photography to choose one or the other, only for him to reply that he can't tell them apart. Doubles as both a Breaking the Fourth Wall joke as the movie is Deliberately Monochrome and a reference to Wood's real-life director of photography Bill Thompson, who was actually colorblind.
  • In The Hangover Part III, Chow being colorblind means that he can't tell Stu which wire to cut when both are trying to disarm two parts of a security system at the same time.
  • A unique example turns up in The Abyss. Bud isn't naturally colorblind, but his only illumination source in the depths is a pale green light that makes the wire he has to cut look exactly the same as the one he shouldn't cut.
  • In Little Miss Sunshine, Dwayne wants to be an Air Force pilot and has taken a vow of silence until he succeeds. Finding out he's colorblind and therefore won't be able to fly causes him to drop an Atomic F-Bomb.
  • In The Shadow, a colorblind scientist cuts the wrong wire on the nuclear bomb, making the timer go to warp speed. By the time he's reconnected that wire to fix it, he's gone from having hours to having about two minutes.
  • In Strange Days, evidence is discovered that the killer must be colorblind. It never gets to be a useful clue because the colorblind guy kept it a secret, but serves as a Brick Joke in the final confrontation, where the killer tells the protagonist his colorblindness is the only way one can stand the latter's taste in clothing.

    Literature 
  • In The Giver, all of the members of The Community are colorblind since birth, and have apparently been deliberately made so through genetic engineering. When protagonist Jonas realizes this and specifically that he can see the color red while they can't it contributes to him finding out the truth about their way of life.
  • The novelization to The Day of the Doctor says that the first two incarnations of Doctor Who could only see in monochrome and that it took him centuries to realize that he was colour blind. Presumably as a nod to the show being black and white back then.
  • Villains by Necessity: Robin (like all centaurs in this universe) is blue-green colorblind. Thus he can't tell when the villains replace the blue stones of his magical bracelet (which lets him teleport and deliver spy reports) with green ones and is unable to escape.
  • The Dresden Files: Like any dog, Mouse is red-green colorblind. In the part of "Zoo Day" he narrates, he notes that Maggie calls his vest red... and he has no idea what that means, but if she likes it, it's all good.
  • In Dial-a-Ghost, the titular Dial-a-Ghost agency works to find homes for various ghosts, some of whom are peaceful and kind and some... distinctly less so. At the beginning of the book, some nuns at a local abbey offer a home for some friendly ghosts, while Fulton Snodde-Brittle asks for a family of angry ghosts in an attempt to frighten his young third cousin Oliver to death so he can inherit the estate himself. The agency finds the Wilkinson family for the abbey and two ghosts called the Shriekers for Snodde-Brittle, tasking an office boy with giving the right envelope to the right person, referring to them by their colors. However, said office boy is colorblind and is afraid to ask for clarification, so he blindly guesses which is which. Fortunately for young Oliver, the office boy guesses wrong, saving him from the child-hating Shriekers and setting the plot of the book in motion.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In John Doe, the title character was completely colorblind except when he saw certain clues or people related to his previous life or the case he was working on, when instead of the usual Deliberately Monochrome style the show used from his perspective the items in question would be in color. There was also an episode where a lightning strike restored his color vision but made him lose his Encyclopaedic Knowledge until another lightning strike put things back to normal.
  • In the Leverage episode "The Lost Heir Job", Ruth's colorblindness is hinted at when she brings flowers to a grave and calls them blue irises when they're clearly yellow. This is later used to prove that she's really the daughter of the wealthy Mr. Kimball and a stripper named Georgia, who were both colorblind and correctly shows the mechanism of inheritance as coming from both sides.
  • Mister Ed: The title character had whether or not he was colorblind flip-flopped with two episodes touching on it, the first where Ed wants a color TV but Wilbur refuses to get him once since horses are colorblind, but Ed proves him wrong by pointing out the color of the clothes he's wearing. In a later episode, Ed wins a color TV in a trivia contest, and a fight between Ed and Wilbur ensues about whether it will go in the house or the barn. In the end, Ed steals the TV and watches it in the barn, and decides to let Wilbur have it since he discovered he was actually colorblind.
  • On season 9 of Project Runway Anthony Ryan Auld, a fashion designer featured as a contestant, is colorblind, and talks about it during his audition video and during the season, explaining that he both can't see some colors and perceives others differently and has both red-green and blue-yellow colorblindness. Also qualifies as Deaf Composer since the judges would frequently laud his color choices on garments and acknowledge that they weren't sure how they looked to him but they found them praiseworthy. On a few occasions, he's also shown consulting with other designers about whether two colors match and/or look good together.
  • In the Psych episode "Santabarbaratown", Shawn has a "Eureka!" Moment when he remembers that Thea Summers is colorblind, which helps prove that her father was Ellis Beaumont, who was recently murdered and had the condition as well. The mechanism of inheritance is also oversimplified by stating that a colorblind man must have a colorblind daughter when in reality she would have to get the gene from both parents due to it being carried on the X chromosome in order for it to be expressed.
  • Inverted in The X-Files episode "Wetwired", where Mulder's red-green colorblindness turns into an unexpected asset, as The Government's subliminal messages operate primarily in that spectrum, and he is thus the only one immune to them.
  • On Elementary, an episode opens with the rare bit of Gregson and Bell, not Holmes and Watson, busting a crook. They confront a man who killed a woman for ending their affair. They note how the man is colorblind and when he realized he couldn't clean up all the blood from the shooting, he just covered it with new wallpaper. But because of his colorblindness, he failed to realize the shade of the pattern was slightly different than the original which stuck out like a sore thumb to the cops and allowed them to find the blood and bullet hole.
  • New Girl: The episode "All In" reveals that Winston is colorblind and this is played for humor — he can't see his green sneakers as green and has trouble with puzzles. This has never come up before this episode.
    Schmidt: Winston, if you think your shoes are brown, what color do you think you are?
  • The Series Finale of The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, "The Big Cheese Mystery," features a criminal disguising themself as "Cheese Louise," a popular children's show character, to rob banks. The culprit turns out to be a woman getting revenge for being humiliated on the show as a child. Shelby figures it out by noticing that the Cheese Louise committing crimes has green gloves, while the original had red. She then realizes that the woman is red-green colorblind, given that she's made repeated mistakes about color-coded objects throughout the case (such as opening the wrong cooler for a drink or reaching for extremely flavorful green wasabi despite saying that she didn't want too much spice with her meal).

    Radio 
  • In The Goon Show episode "Foiled by President Fred", Eccles has a red sack of forged money and a blue sack of genuine money. Or maybe it's the other way around. Thanks to his colour blindness, he isn't able to tell which sack is which colour anyway...

    Video Games 
  • This forms a part of a Moon Logic Puzzle in Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes where a pizza's toppings must be made in accordance with the wishes of the characters, the catch being that all are different types of colorblind. Adrian has red/yellow colorblindness, Peter has red/green colorblindness, Petra has yellow/green colorblindness, and Drogglejug has green/blue colorblindness.
  • Valkyria Chronicles II combines this with Artistic License – Biology by having one character, The Medic Cosette becoming colorblind after witnessing their parent's death, making them unable to see the color red. They, naturally, get faced with a Wire Dilemma and not only overcome it but are cured of their colorblindness in the process. Needless to say, while colorblindness can sometimes be caused by factors other than genetics (usually physical trauma to the brain or retina), witnessing a traumatic incident isn't one of them, and Epiphany Therapy isn't known to cure it.
  • In My Time at Portia, Sanwa, one of the Hulu brothers, has recently given up on his job as a barber because he realized he's colorblind. Specifically, because he accidentally dyed Remington's hair bright green. To unlock his barbershop, you help him regain his confidence by making him a pair of colorblindness-correction glasses. Thankfully, since Remington actually keeps his green hair all throughout the game, it seems he actually likes the look.
  • When Among Us first started taking off, it was quickly discovered that the game was very colorblind-unfriendly; not only did one task (wires) rely on matching colors, but if you saw someone kill but didn't catch their name and were colorblind, you had nothing to go on in meetings; leading to Impostors getting away or Crewmates being misblamed because of this trope. Later updates fixed this by adding symbols to the wires and carrying hats into the debate menu.
  • The Witch's House has a Giant Spider, with the clue to its puzzle being "THE SPIDER IS COLORBLIND". You need the golden butterfly in its web, but if you just take it, the door locks and the spider kills you. Putting a replacement butterfly in the web placates the spider, as it can't tell the difference between the new one and the golden one.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Helluva Boss: Loona the Hell Hound is apparently colourblind, and cannot read a magical formula in a grimoire to escape a red-lit room. How much this could affect her daily life in the red-skied, mainly red-lit, red-coloured Hell is left to speculation.
  • Ollie & Scoops: In "Warm Cream", Dougie the Lab Cat tells Ollie that Scoops is trapped in the house with the red door. Ollie bursts through the door, only to find a Jewish family sitting at the dinner table. That's when Dougie apologizes, explaining that due to his color blindness, he meant the green door.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • This turns out to be the reason Sister ended up on the Blue Team since she was trying to go to the Red Team to be with her brother Grif but her disability combined with her general stupidity meant she joined the wrong army by accident.
    • In the episode "Grey vs Grey"; a Red team and a Blue team are locked in a room together, and it's Deliberately Monochrome to illustrate that every soldier is colorblind. "What are the odds?"
  • RWBY: Maria relies on a pair of cybernetic eyes to see, but they're failing and in desperate need of repair. As a result, she can't see colours, meaning that it takes several episodes before she finds out that Ruby has silver eyes, and only by asking her directly what colour her eyes are.

    Webcomics 
  • In Another Gaming Comic everyone's hair started out shaded green due to the author being colorblind. He eventually changed it so everyone has more standard hair colors.
  • Bloody Urban: Murray, a werewolf, is colorblind even in human form. In one St. Patrick's day comic, he and Shaz find a pub giving out free beers to people wearing green and he's annoyed to realize his shirt is red, fortunately Shaz is willing to help out using their Alien Blood as face paint.
  • In Freefall Florence, an Uplifted wolf, is colorblind. One time she uses a hand device to tell her what color her dress is.
  • One Nodwick comic had the party detailing this time they'd heard a red dragon was terrorizing a village and bought an "Orb of Commanding Red Dragons" to vanquish it, only to find that the village in question had a tendency towards genetic red-green colorblindness.
  • Once in Schlock Mercenary Lieutenant Pi attempted to disarm some rogue ordnance by pressing the green button on his remote, and not the red detonation button. Cut to his head in a jar saying "Nobody told me I was red-green colorblind." However, he has a very good excuse for being confused. He wasn't colorblind before a rather sadistic doctor tinkered with his vision.
  • In Sorcery 101, werewolves become colorblind, much to the dismay of Brad, who prior to his transformation was a graphic designer.
  • In Widdershins, Jack O'Malley sees spirits in color, but the rest of the world in shades of grey. So he has no reference point for which words go with which colors, and when they go through a power-swap storyline he has to use descriptions like "it's the same color as that thing" instead of "it's green."

    Web Videos 
  • Played for Laughs in the Door Monster sketch "Can't See Green", where green objects are invisible to a character with red-green colorblindness.
  • GeorgeNotFound has severe protanomalynote , which puts him at a disadvantage in color-based mini-games.
    • One example of this happens in "Minecraft Speedrunner VS 3 Hunters REMATCH" (one of Dream's Manhunts), where Dream bluffs the hunters by drinking a Fire Resistance potion; George (the only one close enough to see the potion clearly) can't tell which color the potion particles are, and Bad soon after jumps to the conclusion that Dream drank a Strength potion. With George unable to correct him, he just goes along with that interpretation and runs for the hills.
    • In a more general example, the difference between iron and diamond weapons/armor is extremely small from George's point of view, which causes him to be shocked whenever he takes more damage than he expects from swords.
    • George has mentioned several times that in the Bedwars minigame on Hypixel, he tends to confuse the green and yellow team bases with each other since the colors look very close to the other to him.
    • This becomes invoked in Sapnap's video Minecraft, But We Are All Colorblind..., where Dream and Sapnap use a plugin to simulate George's protanomaly on their own screens, so they can explore what Minecraft is like for the latter.
  • In the SuperMarioLogan episode, "Life is Ruff!", Joseph and Cody are the first to realize that Bowser Junior is in the body of Chompy, Junior's pet chain-chomp. Cody gives Junior two balls; one red and one blue, and tells him to pick the red ball if he really is in Chompy's body. Being colorblind, Junior accidentally chooses the blue ball. Cody later realizes that dogs are colorblind, so if Junior was in Chompy's body, he wouldn't be able to tell the two balls apart.
  • Scott The Woz is colorblind in real life so naturally he works jokes about it into his show. He also talks about it in a semi-serious capacity in that he's thankful for the rewind feature of SNES games on Switch as it finally let him beat a Donkey Kong Country 2 level which had color-coded ropes as its main mechanic.
    • Parodied with Rex Mohs having a condition known as Fruit Blindness which leaves him unable to tell one fruit from the next.

    Western Animation 
  • Ray Gillette in Archer is implied to be red-green colorblind, which is something of a problem as he's ISIS' demolitions expert (though it's possible he was just Trolling Archer by intentionally hitting the wrong buttons in an elevator). If true, then by extension he likely lied in order to get his aircraft piloting license.
  • Family Guy:
    • In the episode "Brian Writes a Bestseller", Brian complains during a particularly prima-donna moment that all the M&Ms brought to him are gray when he specifically said to remove them, the joke being that, as a dog, they're all going to look that way to him.
    • One episode has Stewie ration than Brian is a communist because dogs can't see colors, meaning Brian can't see the colors of the American flag (what he failed to realize is that dogs can see the color blue).
  • Littlest Pet Shop:
    • Zoe mentions in the episode "The Hedgehog in the Plastic Bubble" that dogs cannot see red as a Furry Reminder.
    • Minka the monkey also mistakes a green envelope for a red one in one episode, since they look the same to her. Since she's artistic, you'd think this might come up more often, but nope.
  • In the Martha Speaks episode, "Martha the Witness", Martha represents Mrs. Demson as the witness to a traffic accident that destroyed her lawn furniture. At one point, the defendant's lawyer shows Martha three cards; two red and one green. Martha, however, is unable to tell the three cards apart, due to her being colorblind, but towards the end of the episode, she reveals that she is able to tell that the top of a traffic light is always red, and the bottom of the traffic light is always green.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode "Bro-Down Showdown", Sonic and Knuckles compete on the titular game show to win a new couch for Amy after they spill nachos on her old one. Sonic is teamed up with Dr. Eggman, and Knuckles is teamed up with Mike the Ox. At one point, Comedy Chimp asks Mike what color Knuckles is. Due to being colorblind, Mike guesses green, even though Knuckles is red. When he finds out he answered wrong, he admits he's colorblind, and when a red light flashes, he asks if the light was green.
  • In the Adventure Time episode "Red Starved", several characters proclaim that the large gem Finn discovers is a green emerald, even though he and the audience can clearly see it is a red ruby. Eventually, Finn gets fed up and describes it as a perfectly normal, dark gray ruby. Jake then tells Finn he's color-blind, at which point the audience sees the gem as an emerald as well.
  • Tuba in season 3 of Infinity Train is red-green colorblind. This allows her to help solve a puzzle where objects disappear depending on what color they are.
  • Played for Laughs in The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Boredom". A trucker takes the Wattersons' house, which is blue. He seems to think it's pink. He then calls the pink frosting on a donut blue, and his partner figures out he's blue-pink colorblind.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Colour Blind Confusion

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This disaster could have all been averted if Matt wasn't so colorblind.

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